Sturm Panzer SY-002 Leo Sniper MK II (2014 version)
There have been numerous versions of the Leo Sniper made–something like six if you count the OEM. The newest (dark blue version) is approximately 3 grams lighter than its 2013 predecessor (light blue version). For its size, the 2014 Leo Sniper MK II is incredibly light. Sturm Panzer accomplished this by using an ultra-thin shell of 7075 aluminum stabilized by two large brass weight rings. And holy crap is it light! Below are the specs:
Release Year: 2014
Trapeze Width: 39mm
Body Material: 7075 Aluminum
Rim Material: Brass
Bearing: Concave size D bearing
The main things to notice from the specs are the 3 gram drop in mass from the previous light blue version, the high diameter:width ratio, the IrPad response, and the D-sized bearing. This version only comes in one color, a deep blue. From pictures I saw online I didn’t think I would like the color, but once I saw it in person I thought it was beautiful. It should also be noted Sturm Panzer is no longer producing the light blue ~62g version, though there are still a few left at the international retailer if someone wanted to pick one up.
Price–Priced at 15,800 yen this yo-yo is about 4,000-8,000 yen cheaper than yo-yos of similar build quality and performance (think Yoyorecreation, Turning Point). You’re getting a 7075/brass bimetal with perfect build quality, PLUS a manga, for 15,800 yen. It’s a great deal.
Fast Play–This is easily the fastest yo-yo I have ever thrown. I suspect for its size it is one of the fastest yo-yos available. The super-low weight, combined with the low width make speedy, intricate string tricks a breeze. It plays even faster than Yoyomonster’s Agonist, by a wide margin!
High RPMs–The low overall weight, high concentration of rim weight (the brass rings make up something like half the mass of the yo-yo), high diameter:width ratio, and the use of a D-sized bearing all make the new Leo Sniper MK II generate insanely high RPMs. It takes very little effort to get the yo-yo up to speed. The initially high RPMs help to increase the sleep time, which would otherwise be brought down by the low weight of the yo-yo.
Spin Time–Despite the low weight of the yo-yo, it still achieves excellent spin times due to the extreme rim weight, the high diameter:width ratio, and the use of a D-bearing. A solid throw starts at much higher RPMs than normal, so even though the RPMs slow down faster compared to, say, a Draupnir (C-bearing yo-yo), it doesn’t affect the time you can spend doing combos. I was able to throw a 7 minute sleeper on my first attempt, which quite surprised me given the weight of the yo-yo and the fact I was using the default bearing. I did notice, however, that once it reaches fairly low RPMs, it starts to slow down faster than most C-bearing yo-yos. So if you see the RPMs start to get low, you need to bind quickly. But this issue should NOT affect normal play. In fact, when doing multi-layer string tricks, the 2014 Leo Sniper MK II will sleep LONGER than anything else I’ve tried. I did several simple tests comparing it to a Draupnir. While the Draupnir will sleep longer if just hanging there, when doing a double, triple, or quadruple trapeze, the Leo Sniper MK II blows it away. I was EASILY able to get over a minute of sleep time with the 2014 Leo Sniper MK II on a QUADRUPLE trapeze (7 layers of string under the bearing), and still bind successfully. The Draupnir spun out after about 8 seconds on a quadruple trapeze, and about 10 seconds on a triple trapeze. And the Draupnir also had a superior bearing!
Response–The new Leo Sniper MK II comes installed with IrPads. They are quite thin, however. Sturm Panzer uses .5mm IrPads while most companies use 1mm response pads. This can be good or bad depending on your preferences, but if you like your yo-yos dead unresponsive, it is a very good thing. Personally I find yo-yos like the Draupnir to be a little too bindy. I often find when doing lacerations or other tricks I end up accidentally binding the yo-yo. This has never happened with the 2014 Leo Sniper MK II. Despite this, it is quite easy to bind the yo-yo. It will bind even at very low RPMs because of the low weight, as long as you feed it enough string. This makes hand starts a breeze. I’m not very good at hand starts, and the only yo-yos I can do them consistently on at the moment are the Draupnir (since it binds so tight) and 2014 Leo Sniper MK II (due to super low weight), but with the latter yo-yo it is even easier.
No Vibe–Earlier Sturm Panzer models like the Stealth Ogre produced large incidences of A- and B grade products. It was fairly common to see a large amount of vibe in regularly priced products. Recently Sturm Panzer and Yoyo Laboratory have stepped up their game. The 2014 Leo Sniper MK II has NO DETECTABLE VIBE. It is just as smooth as my other dead smooth throws, including the Draupnir and Ares Star. And with a clean bearing it is the quietest yo-yo I have ever thrown. The fact that there is no vibe on a bimetal yo-yo with these specs is incredible, because even slight manufacturing problems on bimetals will lead to small amounts of wobbling/blur/vibe, and it tends to get worse the more the weight is focused in the rings. But the 2014 Leo Sniper MK II nailed it.
Looks–It’s not the prettiest yo-yo I’ve ever seen, but the design is both elegant and understated, and the blue anodization looks fantastic. I’ve noticed zero anodization flaws. The brass rings come super shiny, until you smudge them up with fingerprints. The yo-yo comes with a brass polishing cloth to wipe away fingerprints, but don’t use it on the anodized section. Note the kind of blurry spots around the brass edges you see in the pictures—these are not flaws in the brass. It’s just the effect of shadows and the shininess of the brass. The brass is perfect.
Comfort–This is one of the most comfortable yo-yos I’ve ever thrown (easily Top 2). I have small hands but the comfort issues I’ve had with other yo-yos like the Laser or the Prominence I expect would be even worse for people with large hands. The 2014 Leo Sniper MK II fits in the hand perfectly. It’s comfortable to throw in 1A, and comfortable for 5A as well.
Finger spins–The shape is completely adequate for finger spins (though not IDEAL), but I’d suggest wearing some nylon gloves as the Sturm Panzer “buttons” have a high coefficient of friction.
Fun factor–This is the most fun yo-yo I’ve had. Usually when I get a new yo-yo I’ll play with it for about 2 - 3 hours and then do something else. When I got this one in the mail I ended up practicing for almost 7 hours, which is unheard of for me. I think the fact it is so comfortable, light, and speedy, combine to make it fun to play for many hours.
Stability–I wouldn’t call this yo-yo unstable by any means, but it is less stable than most of my other high-end throws. This is an inherent problem in yo-yos so lightweight, but Sturm Panzer did a good job compensating by use of the heavy weight rings. The yo-yo just tends to tilt to the side quite easily if your technique is sloppy. It’s less forgiving than something like the Draupnir or Eclipse Ogre.
Controllability–It’s hard to control yo-yos this light. By this I mean if your technique is sloppy, the yo-yo will tend not only to tilt, but may start rocking forward and backward when doing pinwheel like motions. I found this especially an issue for 5A. After doing mid-air transitions like with the Meltdown trick, the yo-yo tends to rock forward and backward making it easy for the counterweight to miss the yo-yo gap. However, this is more a problem of the thrower than the yo-yo. Heavy yo-yos tend to mask sloppy play. This yo-yo is less forgiving, which is just a result of basic physics. If an object is hanging on a string affixed to a wobbling object (a hand), then the lighter the object, the more slight wobbles in the hand will translate into movements in the object. Personally, I don’t find this issue much of a con, because it helps me notice where I’m being sloppy and how I can improve my technique. But it does make certain tricks more difficult, and this probably wouldn’t be my first choice at a competition (unless I were way, way better).
D-sized bearing–This isn’t a con in itself, but the fact is there aren’t many D-sized bearings available on the market these days. Some of the best bearings I’ve used (NSK Gold, NSK Platinum, YYF Gold Centertrac) cannot be used on this yo-yo. However, there ARE good bearings available, like the Dif-e-yo Konkave, the Yoyorecreation Double Straight, some of the Terrapin X bearings, and various generic bearings, such as the one that comes with the yo-yo, which is actually quite good. To me the pros of a D-size bearing outweigh the negatives of D-bearing scarcity, but I can see this potentially being an issue for someone with a collection of C-size bearing yo-yos who doesn’t want to shell out more money on D-size bearings, or who has come to love a particular C-size bearing.
The 2014 Leo Sniper MK II is the most fun yo-yo I’ve ever thrown. It’s speedy, it’s comfortable, it’s unresponsive, it’s light, it has great sleep times even with the default bearing, and it is just plain hard to put down. I’m not a competitive player myself, but judging from the specs and the 15 or so hours I’ve spent with it so far, I would say this would make an excellent competition yo-yo for 1A players with a speedy, technical style involving complex string tricks. The diameter/width specs are also typical of many 3A and 5A yo-yos. I’m garbage at 3A, but with the narrow width, easy ability to generate spin, and easy binds, I think this would probably make a great 3A yo-yo. I play mostly 5A myself. I would not recommend this for the purpose of learning 5A since it is relatively hard to control, but for a more advanced player it certainly has its advantages. For instance, I find the counterweight is easier to control than with a heavier yo-yo. That’s because typically a counterweight has mass about 1/6 of the yo-yo (11 g counterweight with 66g yo-yo), while here the same counterweight has a mass close to 1/5 of the yo-yo. This makes some tricks easier due to the light weight while others are harder. In the end it comes down to your style and preference, but I can’t imagine anyone buying this yo-yo and not liking it, regardless of whether you play 1A/3A/5A.
As such I highly, highly recommend the 2014 Leo-Sniper MK II. It’s a truly unique yo-yo with many great qualities. And it is ADDICTIVE.
If I had to go with just one of the Eclipse Ogre or 2014 Leo Sniper MK II…I’d probably get the new Leo Sniper. I find it slightly more fun than the Eclipse Ogre but love both of them. So better yet, get both. I did, and I’m not disappointed (despite in general being prone to buyer’s remorse). They complement each other. The Eclipse Ogre is a slow, heavy brute and the new Leo Sniper is light, floaty, and fast. They both deviate from yo-yo norms, which is why they’re such great additions to one’s collection. Both come highly recommended.
Sturm Panzer SY-002 Leo Sniper MK II (2013 version)
I picked up one of the few remaining 2013 (light blue) versions of the Leo Sniper MK II primarily so I could compare it to the newer version. I’ll be posting some pics, the specs, and some thoughts on how the models compare, but won’t be doing a full point-by-point review due to redundancy. There is quite a bit of difference in play between the two versions, however. Below are the specs:
Release Year: 2013
Trapeze Width: 39mm
Body Material: 7075 Aluminum
Rim Material: Brass
Bearing: Concave size D bearing
The light blue version looks almost turquoise in person, and the dark blue version looks almost purple. Granted I’m a little colorblind, but whereas on website pictures I found I thought the light blue color looked a lot better, in person I found both colors beautiful and have no real preference in that regard.
According to my scale, which has .01g precision, the difference in mass between the new dark blue version and the previous light blue version is 62.68g - 59.74g = 2.94g. So there’s about a 3 gram difference in mass. I couldn’t visibly detect any difference in shape between the two versions, either on the body or the rings, so I’m not sure exactly how this magic was achieved, but the scales don’t lie, and there is a noticeable difference in feel to how the two versions play, much more so than one would find between a 68g and a 65g yo-yo in my opinion.
The overall list of pros/cons applies to both versions–the differences are the degrees to which they apply. As one would expect, although the light blue version is fast, the dark blue version is even faster. The light blue is a bit more stable. It’s noticeably easier to control but there is not a huge difference. It takes a little less effort to reach high RPMs with the dark blue, but spin dies down a bit faster, so that for overall sleep times these two factors almost cancel each other out. The light blue sleeps just a tiny bit longer when hanging on a string, but not enough to make any difference in play, as I could notice no difference in combo times.
Although I’ve heard Sturm Panzer’s quality control has gotten better over time, and that their earliest models were sometimes prone to having small amounts of vibe, the light blue Leo Sniper MK II that I received plays with no detectable vibe. Now this could just mean I wasn’t unlucky, but I think most reported vibe problems were associated specifically with the first two yo-yos produced, the extremely heavy Stealth Ogre and its prototype. I would be surprised if any of the 4 remaining light blue versions available (at the time this was written) had any vibe, but since Sturm Panzer reports the incidence of non A grades is lower with dark blue versions, there may be a slight risk.
So, which version is better? Honestly I don’t know. I feel that the light blue version is a little less “extreme” in its specs–it’s less than a gram lighter than a Draupnir, for instance–but that Sturm Panzer knew where to stop when decreasing the mass of the dark blue versions. With the dark blue version, they made a yo-yo about as fast as possible while still maintaining enough stability to be playable. If you are accustomed to heavier yo-yos, you may be better off with a light blue version. It is probably a little easier to use competitively. In addition, if you wish to get both versions, it would be better to buy the light blue version first since Sturm Panzer no longer produces it and it may not be available at the major international site much longer. With all those caveats aside, I still find I have a slight preference for the dark blue version. While both versions are fun, the extreme speediness of the dark blue version makes it truly unique, and I find myself reaching for it a little more often.
Left: Team Sturm Panzer Right: Yo-yo Combat and Design